Friday, February 3, 2012

Franklin Delano Obama

In his continuing efforts to bring back the salad days of the Great Depression, which some would call the high water mark of his party, President Obama has announced a new proposal to provide employment to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He plans to recreate the Civilian Conservation Corps, rebrand it as the Veteran's Conservation Corps, and use the projected 20,000 veterans to rebuild trails, levees, and other infrastructure in national parks at an initial cost of $1 billion.

If you do the math, that comes to $50,000 per person employed in such a program.  I'm assuming that includes salary, pay, food, shelter, medical, and whatever.  Since they will be employed by the federal government, time spent in this new VCC will probably count towards a federal retirement.  $50,000 sounds like quite a bit, but don't worry.  Once the unions for federal employees get involved, that number will climb.  Also, since Obama plans to be the one cutting the pork, expect it to be liberally spread across blue states and constituencies.  Rent seekers and party machines across the nation will take to the streets in celebration!

And of course, we can expect civilian construction companies, who should be the ones doing this work, assuming of course that it needs to be done in the first place, to object to the low-cost competition.  Their unions might have a bone to pick when the administration they've been carrying water for hits them in the face with the bucket.  Veterans who aren't trained in construction will require formal training in order to use the machinery of construction.  OSHA will be making sure of that.  The EPA will probably get a cut of the action here too, as will the Sierra Club, the Earth Liberation Front, the Society to Protect the Spotted Colorado Bat Snake, and every other environmental group that wants a check.  They'll come out of the woodwork to stop construction in 'pristine' wilderness, at least until someone pays them a little lip service and cuts them a check.

And what will we get for all this work?  Nice roads in the parks, a few restored dirt levees, maybe a new stadium or two where the president expects to give speeches to adoring crowds.  Oh yeah, we'll be able to enjoy these amenities for years to come, or  at least until they're ripped out so that someone can be paid to rebuild them, but it will all be done in the name of make-work.

Veterans need jobs, no-one disputes that, just as all people need a way to support themselves.  But adding another wasteful government program to pay them a salary while they do make-work is counterproductive.  If the president wants to spend borrowed money to improve the chances of veterans getting a job, he should invest more in training programs, or let the GI Bill do its work.  Once they have a college education or solid technical training, their ability to find a job will be much better than if they spend a few months in the back country working a shovel.
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